5 fashion items you’ll need to fight a surveillance state

Digital freedom
2 mins
Some pixelated people in a crowd

In a previous post, we looked at how to be incognito in the real world. Today, let’s dive deeper into the subject… and how to look fabulous while doing it!

When you’re out and about, the most difficult thing to evade is CCTV cameras, especially if they connect to facial recognition systems. In some countries, mass facial recognition systems have already become a reality, while others are still battling with technological and legal hurdles.

In cold times, we can wrap a scarf around our necks, pull the hood deep over our face, or even wear ski goggle to disguise our faces. But what about summer?

Luckily, fashion has the answers:

1. Anti-paparazzi scarves

Anti-paparazzi scarves make it impossible for anybody to snap a good picture of you in the dark. Parts of the scarf are made of reflective materials that confuse any photo or video camera—and they don’t even look so bad!

What’s more, you can get the material onto pretty much any piece of clothing, including your suit, hat, t-shirt, or even necklace.

2. Face masks

Whether it’s a good idea to wear a facemask to evade facial recognition depends on how acceptable the accessory is in your town. In many places around the world, pollution has made it common for people to wear masks, and this is obviously great for privacy.

If you are the only one wearing a mask, however, you are simply ‘the one with the mask’ and stand out even more.

3. Temporary face paintings

You can easily fool Facial recognition technology.

Just apply some unusual markers or temporary tattoos on your head, and you’ll stay undetected to machines. This technique is pretty simple, but it also makes a statement. Few will likely join in your little protest, meaning you’ll stand out, and you’ll be fairly easy to recognize by human watchers.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t look super stylish!

4. More patterns everywhere

Computers are easily be distracted by anything that looks like a face.

You can use this to your advantage by using patterns that imitate the simple structure of a human face. All you have to do is print the face patterns on your coat or shirts. Whether this method confuses recognition algorithms enough, though, should probably be tested before you use it to hide from any draconian authority.

5. Anti-CCTV glasses

To aid night vision, CCTV cameras have LED lights that emit infrared light invisible to the human eye. The anti-CCTV Reflectacles simply reflect this light back to the camera, making the cameras blind themselves. Stupid CCTV cameras.

Education is the best defense

When deployed by themselves, these privacy gimmicks will do little to hide your whereabouts in public spaces. You can still be tracked by the humans behind the cameras and the mobile phone in your pocket, for example.

However, they will show your friends and those around you that you care about privacy issues, and maybe even get one or two to think more about the issue. That can’t be a bad thing.

Lexie is the blog's resident tech expert and gets excited about empowerment through technology, space travel, and pancakes with blueberries.